So my husband wants me to get a gun…

Tyndall Field, FL, WWII by rich701 Flickr Commons

Tyndall Field, FL, WWII by rich701 Flickr Commons

From my column at The Washington Times Communities 

WASHINGTON DC, December 8, 2012- I’m learning that I should be careful about saying that I will never do something.  I have said that I would never own a gun more than a few times.

Ever since I’ve been able to formulate my own opinion on the subject, I’ve been a staunch gun control supporter.  I cheered Bob Costas last Sunday when he quoted Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock during halftime at the Eagles-Cowboys game in support of stricter gun control.

From being the only kids on the block not allowed to play with any kind of weapon by our hippie mom to living in Colombia in the 1980s– where guns were everywhere from the heavily armed police and army, to the sometimes equally heavily armed bodyguards, security, and even doormen– I have developed a healthy respect if not outright aversion to guns.  Like most Colombians in the country at the time, I’ve seen my share of shootings and gun injuries, and would be happy if I never saw a gun again for the rest of my life.

I never thought I would ever consider owning a gun.

by Seattle Municipal Archives

by Seattle Municipal Archives

So why am I considering getting a gun?  It’s more that my husband is trying to convince me to get one.  His reasons are valid, but I’m not convinced that a gun will make me safer.  What’s more, I feel that a gun will make me less safe.

My husband and I live in an old house in Dupont Circle.  We own a big black dog and have a great security system.  There are bars on the windows and every conceivable point of entry is alarmed.  Despite all of this security, I must admit, a series of incidents have made me feel less than secure in my home and neighborhood.

The first incident happened about two years ago.  We had been out for dinner and it had snowed enough to cover the ground while we were out.  Going to bed, I looked out the back window into our patio, which has access to an alley in the back, and saw footsteps in the snow leading from the gate, through the patio, and up to the back window.  The gate was closed but the lock was broken.  Nothing was taken.

This summer our garage door was open for less then five minutes and my husband’s bicycle was stolen.  A few days ago, having woken up early, I spotted a man breaking into a neighbor’s car in the alley.  When the police came to investigate, another neighbor reported that someone had come in through an open back door and taken a laptop.

These are only incidents that I have experienced personally.  A quick check on crime websites like reveals a number of robberies, thefts, assaults, and even a few shootings very close to my house; two on my own street.  And this is a relatively “safe” neighborhood.

Despite all this, I have refused to even discuss getting a gun, even though my husband has brought it up several times.  He got me some pepper spray and a pink stun gun, which still kind of makes me nervous.

An incident last night, however, made me wish I had a gun- for about two seconds…

Last night I was home alone when my doorbell rang at midnight.  The bell kept ringing and when I poked my head out the window I was surprised to see a disheveled older man looking up at me angrily.

“You owe me $20!” he yelled up.  He was obviously drunk and very irritated.

I remembered my husband mentioning some guy coming to the door on Thursday night while we were having dinner, claiming he had cleaned the leaves off our front walk and demanding $20.  The leaves were still on the ground and neither one of us had ever seen this man or asked him to do anything for us.  My husband told him we had no cash in the house, and we thought that was that.

“He told me to come get my money today!” he yelled up, stamping his feet, fuming.  I assumed the “he” was my husband.

As I looked down at this person who was obviously in need of a good cup of coffee and a warm place to sleep, I didn’t want to tell him that my husband was not home.

“I don’t have any cash right now,” I said, trying not to yell at that hour.

by Mike Licht,

by Mike Licht,

He cursed and demanded to see my husband.  I was forced to tell him that he was not home and then, getting up my courage, I said it was not OK for him to come knocking on someone’s door in the middle of the night.  He started walking away angrily, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was turning towards the alley that leads to the back of my house.

I’m not going to describe the horrible thoughts that went through my mind, but I was absolutely terrified.  This man was angry, he was drunk, and he knew that I was home alone.  I finally called the police, who came, checked out the back, and took a description of our would-be gardener.  The experience rattled me.

I still don’t think that getting a gun would be a good idea.  To begin with, my pink stun gun makes me nervous; I don’t think I’ll even be able to hold a gun, let alone learn to fire it at a human being.  I really don’t think that I will ever be comfortable enough with a gun to actually shoot it.  I also think that since I am so afraid of guns, it is more likely that an intruder will turn it on me rather than me using it to defend myself successfully.

I’m also a firm believer that guns in the home are dangerous.  In the wake of the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, it is valid to think that certain tragedies like this would not happen if people did not have such easy access to guns.

I doubt I’ll ever get a gun for myself, and am currently standing firm in not allowing a gun in my house.  Ultimately, I guess the issue of my personal gun ownership is less about my views of the weapon and more about my views of society.  I want to believe that here in the United States, individuals do not need to take it upon themselves to protect their families.  I want to believe we have evolved from the Wild West every man for himself, vigilante lifestyle to a true society where police keep us safe in our homes and criminals face prosecution from the legal system.  This may be naïve, but despite my scare last night, I still don’t want a gun in the house.